Haven’t you ever wanted to issue client invoices and check the status of outstanding payments directly from your iPad? No matter if you’re a small business, an accountant or an associate, doing these from your iPad can make your life easier. Thanks to Xero, you can easily do all of this and even check your company’s expenses and bank account balances from your iPad.
The first time you launch Xero, you’ll face a particularly empty login screen, that only asks for your email address and password. Unfortunately, this is not a simplified account creation screen, but an actual login screen. What if you don’t have an account, you may wonder? You’ll have to go through a computer — or a web browser on your iPad — in order to set up a new account. Once you’re account is up and running, you can go back to the application and log in. In order to make the login process easier, Xero will remember your credentials and ask you to set up a 4-digit code, which will be the only security code you’ll have to provide next time you launch the app.
Xero can be used to manage various company accounts and link them to actual bank accounts, so you can keep track of how much cash you have. However, bank accounts can only be linked by using an actual browser and not the application. Thankfully, you only have to go through the process once, as the accounts will remain in sync afterwards.
Xero‘s interface is particularly simple and uncluttered. The app’s most relevant screen is the Dashboard, which shows the various banks accounts associated with your credentials, as well as the total amount of outstanding invoices and expenses. Nevertheless, the aim for simplicity lead the developers to omit many useful elements and turn the dashboard into an overall empty screen that merely displays a few figures and bank accounts.
Unlike most dashboards, the one in Xero doesn’t feature any key figures, graphs or visual representation of the information. The application itself is also the exact same as the iPhone one, and doesn’t have any added benefits or features related to the iPad’s bigger screen size, which is a shame for an accounting application.
Invoicing and Expenses
Within the application, you can track both invoices you send out and expenses you make. Thankfully, Xero also lets you edit new invoices on your iPad and send them to your clients. You can also record expenses directly from your iPad and track them thanks to the dashboard.
Whether you add an expense or an invoice within Xero, you can specify who you’re billing or what supplier the invoice is from, provide a description and even a photo. You can also add several items within an expense or invoice, and Xero will automatically add them up for you.
You can also include tax rates in the application for Xero to do the math for you. Although these can be applied from your iPad, they would need to be previously set up from your computer, which once again damages the final experience. Lastly, all items you add in Xero can be assigned to categories, no matter if they’re expenses or invoices, and can also be identified by a reference number from your accounting system — you would have to enter it manually.
After adding invoices, Xero records them in the system and waits for them to be approved. After approval, invoices are automatically sent to clients by email. Thankfully, this process can be done directly from your iPad, but don’t expect for much customization, as you can only add your client’s email manually and a short note. You also can’t select templates from you iPad, and these would also need to be defined on your computer.
The major drawback in using this application is that it frequently requires you to use a computer — or at least switch to your browser. For instance, you can’t use the application unless you have signed up on the website, and there is absolutely no indication that you would have to do that on the login screen.
Making the app too simple resulted in many features being implemented partially, as mentioned above, such as the lack of customization of the template, the set up of bank accounts etc. Similarly, there are no graphs and no proper dashboards in the application, which prevent you from visually analyzing where your accounts stand.
Xero is a good solution to manage your expenses when you use it within a web browser or from an actual computer. The iPad application, however, is too simplistic and lacks many features. This requires you to always have to go back to using your browser or a computer, making the app quite useless. Worse, Xero is the same mobile app as the iPhone one, with no added features, such as graphs in the dashboard or decent tracking features.
The problem is that is Xero was completely free, it could be OK. Nevertheless, the service is subscription-based, and not offering a proper app for a paid service is a shame. However, if you’re looking for a basic app and aren’t looking at using advanced features, I suggest you sign up for a free trial — for once you won’t have to give your credit card number — and see if you like the service. For more information on the web-based solution, have a look at our colleague’s review on Web.AppStorm.